It was a moment of brilliance from Atlanta that tipped the scales in favor of the visitors, but for most of the match, those scales were pretty even. With the Hector Villalba strike, it now marks back-to-back home losses for Orlando City as the Lions head to Atlanta for next weekend’s match.
It was very even through most of the match and Orlando held a 14-8 shot advantage, but was stopped by Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan time and time again. The USMNT keeper came up with five total saves on Orlando.
Redemption can come for the Lions next Saturday, but until then, here are our grades from the match.
GK, Joe Bendik, 7 — Despite being hard done by the one goal, Bendik did his usual thing throughout the game and kept Orlando in it, making five saves. Had a good denial in the 23rd after Yamil Asad got a chance in on goal. Came up with a big stop on a Miguel Almiron shot in the 45th from the top of the box. Had another stop in the 70th minute after sub Brandon Vazquez got past Toia and tried to shoot near post. Came up with his biggest save of the night on an Almiron shot in the 85th minute, getting down to parry it away.
D, Donny Toia, 6.5 — Looked a bit outmatched at times, but had some recoveries trying to mark Julian Gressel most of the night. Had a good recovery run in the 16th minute to prevent a ball into the box from Gressel, who originally beat him down the line. Did a good job running down a ball forward in the attack in the 21st minute and earning a corner. Got the ball stuck under his feet as he tried to clear it in the 40th minute and almost gifted Atlanta a corner, but Bendik was able to knock it away for a throw-in. Had a shot in the 55th minute from outside the box on a volley, but it sailed well wide. Got burned in the 70th minute by Vazquez, but Bendik was able to save the subsequent shot. Led the team in tackles, with three.
D, Jonathan Spector, 7.5 (MOTM) — Specs Got a touch on a ball coming in from the wing and altered it just enough for Bendik to grab. Had a great header on frame in the 39th minute, but Guzan came up with a big save to stop it. Had a huge defensive play with a sliding tackle after Johnson had a gaffe, passing it right to Almiron in front of goal. Got another chance in the second half at a header, but Guzan once again got down to save it. Led the team in clearances, with five, and was second in interceptions, with two.
D, Jose Aja, 6 — Was fairly decent defense-wise up until the Atlanta goal. Had a chance offensively on a corner in the 22nd minute, but his header flashed just wide of goal. Got turned around as Asad got behind him in the 23rd minute, leading to an Atlanta shot on goal. Had a poor header in the 33rd minute as he tried to clear the danger in the box, but Sutter was able to clean up his mess. Committed a foul in the 48th minute on Asad to prevent him getting in on goal. Sagged off on Villalba on the only goal of the game, but that was only partly his fault.
D, Scott Sutter, 7 — A really good match again for Sutter. Did a great job on defense and getting forward in the attacking third. Had a great run in the 25th minute as he volleyed a cross into the box, which was headed away for a corner. Cleared away the danger in the box in the 33rd minute after Aja was unable to properly clear the danger. Finished the game second in interceptions, with two, and clearances, with two.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 6.5 — A much better game from the midfielder overall. Got into passing lanes and really disrupted the Atlanta offense. Also, did a good job getting forward into the attack. Had a poor one-touch pass in the 11th minute trying to pick out Toia on the other side of the field. Was a bit over aggressive at times and slid into rash challenges. Had a good opportunity in the 73rd minute after burning Greg Garza and putting a ball into the box, which was off by just a bit. Just a minute later, Higuita had another chance to put the ball in off a Kaká feed, but it again was just off. Earned a free kick in the 90th before coming off for Gil. Led the team in interceptions, with three.
MF, Antonio Nocerino, 6 — Not a very memorable match for Noce. Great job tracking Hector Villalba on a run in the 10th minute. Committed a foul on Almiron in the 12th minute, leading to a free kick for Atlanta. Tied for second on the team in interceptions, with two, and finished with a 69% passing percentage.
MF, Will Johnson, 5.5 — It was a night to forget for Will. Did a solid job trying to play quick passes along the wing, but often didn’t get forward enough in the attack. Had a terrible giveaway in the 41st minute, passing it right to Almiron in the box, but Spector was able to bail him out. Almost had another giveaway and tried to bicycle the ball away in the second half, but instead he kicked Yamil Asad in the head and was promptly shown a yellow. Had a chance to tie the game in stoppage time, but he hit his shot high over the bar after getting past his defender. Finished with an 81% passing accuracy, good for fifth on the team.
MF, Kaká, 6.5 — The captain was really onto something in the early parts of the game, but faded as the match went on. Issued a yellow card in the sixth minute for a late challenge on Yamil Asad after trying to win the ball back. Had an amazing run in the 17th minute as he took on the entire Atlanta defense, before laying it off for Barnes, who just missed. Had another great run in the 20th minute, sprinting right down the middle, before the ball was taken from him. Pushed forward in the 27th minute, laying a ball off to Barnes to play back to him, but it was just in front of the Brazilian. Played a great ball in for Rivas in the 36th minute, which he hit right to Guzan. Had a set piece in the 63rd to Spector, but it was saved by Guzan again. Had a shot in the 87th minute trying to curl one past Guzan, but he was equal to the shot. His grade would have been higher, but he finished the game with the worst passing accuracy of any player on the pitch (64% for the game).
F, Giles Barnes, 6.5 — Did well up top filling in for Larin and created some good chances Had a chance in the 17th minute after a great Kaká run, but missed it just wide. Tried an effort from outside the box in the 32nd minute, but it was right at Guzan. Had another chance at a header in the 44th minute, but he pushed off his defender as his chance went just over the top of the net. Drew a foul in the 63rd minute which led to a free kick. Came off in the 72nd minute for Larin. Finished the match with the most shots on goal, with three.
F, Carlos Rivas, 6.5 — Constantly used his strength to back down his defenders and earn a number of fouls in the process. Had a good run and a powerful strike in the 36th minute, but it was right at Guzan. Made a great run in the 57th towards goal and put a cross in, but it looked to have come off the Atlanta defender’s hand, but nothing was called. Tried an effort from distance in the 79th minute, but he sent it into the second deck. Finished the game with the second highest passing percentage, with 83% and second on the team in shots, with two.
F, Cyle Larin (72’), 6 — Came straight from the airport to the stadium and came on for the final 18 minutes, but didn’t have too much of an impact offensively.
MF, Richie Laryea (88’), N/A — Came in for Nocerino, but only registered two touches.
MF, Luis Gil (90’), N/A — Came in for Higuita in the last moments of the match. Had a few touches, but nothing game-changing.
That’s the way I saw the individual performances on this night. Vote for your Lion of the Match in the poll below.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match from the Lions’ vs Atlanta?
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